A Counterexample for The Validaity of Using Nuclear Norm as A Comvex Surrogate of Rank


Rank minimization has attracted a lot of attention due to its robustness in data recovery. To overcome the computational difficulty, rank is often replaced with nuclear norm. For several rank minimization problems, such a replacement has been theoretically proven to be valid, i.e., the solution to nuclear norm minimization problem is also the solution to rank minimization problem. Although it is easy to believe that such a replacement may not always be valid, no concrete example has ever been found. We argue that such a validity checking cannot be done by numerical computation and show, by analyzing the noiseless latent low rank representation (LatLRR) model, that even for very simple rank minimization problems the validity may still break down. As a by-product, we find that the solution to the nuclear norm minimization formulation of LatLRR is non-unique. Hence the results of LatLRR reported in the literature may be questionable.

European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases